[T]he production never overwhelms and comic relief in the form of visual gags and clever wordplay is always elegantly timed to keep the story moving forward. [4 stars] – Winnipeg Free Press

King Minos has a terrible secret. His stepson, the Minotaur, is a half-man, half-bull monster, born of a curse incurred for trying to cheat the sea god Poseidon. Every year he collects human sacrifices from the nations he has conquered to feed the Minotaur, but this year is different. This year, Theseus, a brave young man from Troezen (“Treason?!”) has taken the place of one of the prisoners, and he intends to put a stop to the blood debt. He’ll have to deal with a diabolical king, a flesh-rending bovine abomination and a girl with an obsessive crush to do it, but by Zeus, do it he will.

Our company’s sophomore production premiered at the 2009 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. It incorporated a lot of the same techniques as Perseus had; story theatre, masks and puppets. Doing this allowed us to begin solidifying a distinctive “style” in the minds of our audiences, many of whom had seen us the previous year as well. But we did attempt to stretch ourselves somewhat as well. Perseus was a very comedic, family-friendly show – it was, after all, part of the Kids’ Fringe. Theseus, on the other hand, is a more tragic story, so we had to strike a balance between comedy and drama.

Whereas the designs for Perseus had been drawn from Greek vase paintings (flat and black – perfect for shadow puppets!), Ariel designed flat, wooden puppets for Theseus, to be manipulated live on stage, based on Minoan frescoes, which are far more colourful. (Pictures below the fold.)

Theseus and the Minotaur was well-received by both audiences and critics. It helped us gain a wider audience and demonstrate that we can bring off comedy and tragedy alike. By all accounts, it was another success.

Full-colour puppets! Clockwise from top left: Sinis (which separated into two parts, just like the character), Pasiphaë (the Minotaur’s mom), and the Golden Bull (the Minotaur’s dad).

A giant man-eating turtle; a dolphin from the undersea realm of Queen Amphitrite.

Dionysus chillin’ with the Rowdy Box. This box, mounted on a wooden pole, was our way of representing a crowd with a single actor.

King Minos (Dan Augusta, R) scolds his prisoners, Theseus (Ariel Levine) and the Rowdy Box (Sarah Watkins).

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